Macon County high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are fulfilling requirements for Bridge Builders Alabama, meet every other Tuesday night at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 81 between Notasulga and Tuskegee. Auburn University undergraduates work alongside them, as they develop skills related to life, work, and college. The program is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
On Monday, January 21—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—students participated in an important project that will benefit Macon County. Kay Stone of the AU Environmental Institute and glass artist Linda Munoz of Cuba, Alabama led our session (joined by Linda’s husband Charlie, also an artist!).
The project actually started several months ago, when our students worked with Kay and her assistant Heather Hughes to brainstorm themes and messages for mosaic tile benches. Kay and Heather mocked up several of the student ideas, and then students chose their top three: “Let Macon County Blossom;” “Education is Key;” and one that shows three historic buildings in Tuskegee.
Heather and Kay completed all of the prep work, so students glued the pieces to the concrete bench projects, being careful to leave enough space for the soon-to-come grout. Several students learned how to cut glass (with safety glasses on, of course!) and use the nippers to prepare the perfect pieces for free-forming the empty space in the design.
Macon County Commission Chairman Louis Maxwell dropped by after the annual MLK Day Breakfast, and he congratulated students for their impressive work. Bridges Builders Alabama staff member Porsche Holland joined us as well, and she discussed winter and spring events they are offering for students. Our seniors—upon completion of their senior projects—will graduate from Bridge Builders in May. Porsche and our students taught Kay and Linda how to play the game, “Wal-Mart,” a game of quick thinking.
Kay awarded students with a very unique gift for their participation (and no injuries!). We’re all familiar with re-cycling, but Kay has been doing some up-cycling—turning what might be considered waste into something useful—with mini wine bottles and her kiln. Each student received a beautiful, decorative tray that can be used for cheese or other tasty treats. Students were amazed at her handiwork, and we encouraged them to find ways to up-cycle those things that have hidden value.
Students decided a while back that the benches will be given to the three communities of Shorter, Tuskegee, and Notasulga, and the public will be invited to join us for the installation of the benches.